Since Halloween, the mother of all unhealthy eating holidays is looming, I figured it was a good time to talk about the abhorrent eating habits of my childhood. I’m of course a proponent of kids eating healthy but, I do think parents can sometimes take it too far, especially the ones who have kids who are already eating healthy most of the time. On the never-ending parental roller coster called “you’re doing it wrong” let me share how my parents did it completely wrong, yet I turned out all right.
When I was eight my most favorite cereal was Frosted Flakes and I ate it almost every single day. Sometimes I had Lucky Charms but mostly it was the sugar coated flakes that won my second grade heart. I continued to eat them though um, let’s see…college.
In middle school the microwave oven made it’s debut in my house. It was as big as an actual oven and I would shove a cold plastic container of nacho chips with orange cheese into it, remove it on the “ding” and, enjoy a plate of saturated fat and carbs for my after school snack. Every day. For years.
In high school I really hit my stride with a steady ingestion of Taco Bell (hard tacos and cinnamon twists were my fav) and a large cup of french fries, made by angry women, in the school cafeteria on a daily basis. I think the anger with which they were made made them worse for my body.
Sure, I was on the dance team and dabbled in track (anything over 800m was way too long) but these activities did zero to counter my atrocious diet.
I think we all know how I turned out.
This, like so much else in parenting, is a pattern. Did my parents have the knowledge we have today about sugary cereals and saturated fat? No, but honestly, I don’t think it would make that much of a difference.
Of course there is an undeniable obesity epidemic in this country so I would never suggest mimicking a diet like that of my childhood and then hoping for the best. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that eating unhealthy early on adversely effects your adult health but, then again, when isn’t there a study to steal your joy of eating?
The point of this rambling article is this: it’s Halloween. Let your kids and yourselves eat candy. Despite the many parenting mistakes you make, your children will most likely turn out to be amazing, the way I did.
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Happy Trick or Treating!
How was your diet growing up?
Do you let your kids eat sugary cereals or candy?
While I don’t have children, I do believe it’s important to feed them healthy. That being said, I don’t think they should eat fruits and vegetables and never be able to have sweets and candy. Like you said, I think it’s a fine balance and there is no need to question other parent’s decisions.
It’s so hard out there for parents with all these RULES and I’m just tired of it. None of this existed when I was a kid and now I’m the epitome of health. I think we all need to take a deep breath and have a mini snickers 🙂 Thanks Hollie!
I would love to say that I turned out all right… But I have Crohns, though my eating as a kid had nothing to do with that! My husband might be a better example…
But, like you said, having Crohns had nothing to do with your childhood eating habits. Trust me, I don’t let my kids eat candy everyday but there has to be some kind of common sense and balance.
Thanks for sharing this Susie!!
It’s funny but I just read a blog post last night from The Hummusapien that touched on if restricting sweets and other not so healthy foods as kid can lead to some form of a bad relationship with food. Growing up, we didn’t have the sugary cereal in our house. For the most part, we ate pretty healthy. But during High School, I had a lot of Taco Bell. What was with those cinnamon twists?!?! I’m blaming the parties and peer pressure. It kind of makes me want to gag now. You live and learn, right?
Oh the poor kids who parents restricted them usually went bananas in college with junk food overload!
Not sure why I loved those cinnamon twists so much but yes, I gag when I SEE a Taco Bell now -ugh!!
Great post. My kids are 2 and 4, and when the little voice in my head complains that they aren’t eating enough green vegetables, or too many hot dogs… I remind myself that I subsisted on kraft Mac n cheese and coke classic until I discovered the salad bar at college. Like you, I turned out ok. I don’t know what the secret is, but it’s true… you can’t lose sleep over it!
Exactly! I think the “secret” is that we all grow up and make better decisions. I just know that I have to stop worrying about the fruits and veggies. Thanks Lisa!
So funny, Tim and I were just talking about this last night, I am totally going to be one of those parents who will be uptight about this! I was telling Tim how I am going to have to make all his snacks for daycare after seeing the stuff the older kids get fed. We have moved to doing everything organic and no processed foods after watching several documentaries on the way our food is being made. I am OKAY eating “unhealthy” in moderation- i.e going out to dinner, splurging on sweets etc, but overall I don’t trust 98% of what is in our grocery stores- even “healthy” foods are laden with sugar and labeled as something else. I also think that food when we were growing up was not processed to the extent it is now. There were never cases of obesity, heart disease, etc that we see now, its happening in droves.
But, on the flip side of this, my mom was a super freak about never giving us anything sugary or junky growing up, and when I hit the teenage years I went crazy with anything I could get my hands on junk food wise because I never really had it before.
Thanks for this, its a good reminder that I will need to figure out a happy medium on this topic when the time comes!
As you know, balance is key! And I was SO YOU when the boys were babies. I made all their baby food, fed them nothing but healthy foods and, they ate really well…for a while. As soon as they started first grade and discovered things called Cheetos and Doritos they were so pissed at me!! It was pretty hilarious. Now, they have everything in moderation and I just don’t worry that much about it.
I agree that the health issues we have now never existed when we were kids, and there is cause for concern there, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not that big of a deal to have candy 🙂 I know you agree and I seriously cannot wait to see what happens with Quinn!
I’ve seen lots of people my age who have disordered eating habits because their parents helicoptered over their food. Yes, there are like you said those who suffer from obesity and diabetes, or at least still eat crap 100% of the time. I’m all about the happy medium! I ate fairly healthy growing up (although I had lots of cereal and lived in the no-fat 90s/00s!) but holidays were always an exception – as they can and should be. Food is about health and nourishing the body, but it is also about relationships, pleasure, and celebration.
Oh my gosh – great point Laura!!! So much disordered eating, not only from overbearing parents but the images what we’re supposed to look like and “clean” eating (which I hate!) and organics and on and on and on!
Excellent points – thanks for adding so much to this!
Badass is beautiful!!!! My daughter is the worst eater…. I don’t think any other child consumes as little fruits and veggies as her… I was the same way…. and now I eat more salads and veggies than anyone I know…. It all works out. Happy halloween.
Yes it does!
Happy Halloween my friend!!
Ha ha! Great post! I think I may be able to top it though. Count Chocula for breakfast, fluffer nutter sandwiches (peanut butter- not the healthy kind- and marshmallow fluff on wonderbread) for lunch and plenty of pepsi. On Halloween we would trick or treat for hours (alone- no adults, what fun!!!) and come home with a pillowcase full of candy which we gorged ourselves on until it was gone. To be honest I did develop some digestive issues in my 20s (I WONDER WHY?) but was able to correct it and am now a happy, healthy 50 year old woman. i suppose it would have been nice if my parents had been a little more aware of what constitutes a healthy diet but on the other hand i was able to survive it all and have a happy childhood. So we can all definitely forgive ourselves if our kids have a bit of candy this week!
Amen sister!!! And oh how I remember the pillow case filled with Halloween candy! My parents checked it for razor blades (remember that?) and then let us go to town 🙂
I could talk about this for hours. My mom sabotaged my view of food with her never-ending string of dieting. SHE STILL DIETS and she’s 72. Her body image is in the shitter. So my two older sisters ended up having weight problems, but I had a different view of food than they did–food annoyed me (it still does) because I associate it with my mother. I did whatever it took to rebel against her. She is very feminine, she was a florist, she told me how much she loved my long hair (I’d chop it all off) and she dressed me up in frilly dresses and drag me to church. I joined soccer when I was about 5, and that saved my life. PHEW. She never had any junk food in the house, like ever. It was awful. And if we ever had McDonalds she would whine about the “bad food” and how “fat she is” afterward. I could never finish my burger just out of pure buzzkill.
I think I need to go back to counseling. LOL
This is exactly what needs to be avoided! My mother was always dieting too but she didn’t take it that seriously. We ate McDonald’s all the time and (obviously) had sugar cereal morning, noon and night.
I think we can do plenty of damage to our kids in other areas…why do it with food? 🙂
Ugh…this is so much a HUGE topic of conversation in our house. My son is 10. I cook more nights / week than not and I am confident that I am cooking healthy, well-balanced meals. Yes, it bugs me that my son would rather eat candy, sugar, etc but shoot….he’s a kid. Overall, I think he is eating pretty well. I am confident that I am teaching him good habits. If only we had a crystal ball to look into the future to know our kids would turn out okay. 🙂
Yes! You are making so much sense and it sounds like what happens here. Most of the time we eat healthy (although the boys eat the same things over and over) but when they have McDonalds 2-3 times a month, that’s ok too. I definitely try to educate them on healthier foods but ultimately, they will be making their own decisions.
We had sugary cereal as a treat on the weekends, and I do the same for my kids. I totally agree with you about calming down about healthy eating.
It’s interesting…I gained the freshman 15, but I knew nothing about nutrition and didn’t exercise. My daughter is much more aware of healthy eating, and she works out almost daily. She came home after six weeks at school and was thrilled that she hadn’t gained a pound, but had definitely become more toned. But my point is that this was all her idea…we’ve struck a balance with food throughout her childhood, and she’s running with it on her own.
Ooh – this would be a good blog post – thanks for inspiring me!
Absolutely, 100% YES! Being healthy and eating healthy was completely my idea, and ultimately that is what happens when we send our kids into the world. Our job is to give them the tools but, they don’t always listen. So happy to hear your daughter is doing so well and making good decisions…although I really had no doubt since you’re her mother 🙂
My childhood diet resembles you. My favorite after school snacks were pizza bagels, McDonald’s french fries or KFC biscuits. YUM. I too, I think, turned out OK and my love for healthier foods and vegetables definitely came later in life. It’s funny with my kids – we try to have them eat healthy and probably could do a better job loosening up sometimes. That being said, I would like my kids to have a better understanding of nutrition and the tools that go along with it than I did as a kid.
That is KEY – understanding nutrition. Even when my kids eat junk, I make them read the labels…and I point out that fruits and veggies have no labels!!
I had pretty atrocious eating habits too! Candy every day for sure after school, and again after dinner… although my mom did cook from scratch and we had a garden so there was that. But in college I was all about ice cream every night in the cafeteria! Sugar, clearly, has always been my thing.
I am definitely nervous about creating any food “issues” for my girls so I keep mostly healthy stuff in the house but allow treats without making a big deal out of it. Both girls have serious sweet tooths like me! Needless to say, they are super excited for Halloween!!
Very smart mama! I think it’s such a great idea to not make food such a big deal at home. I know your family eats really healthy and, it usually comes down to what is their “normal.” Keep up the good work and indulge that sweet tooth tonight!
My favorite topic! My growing up is complicated because I was ruined with food by the time I was 9 and my birth mother lost custody of me and I began to live with my dad. From there I had home cooked meals but definitely meat and potato and pasta as well as dessert daily. As someone who was a heavy child (in stages – mostly created by binge eating starting VERY young think 6-7) and then obese as an adult and to this day struggles with my relationship with food I see 100% how I could have avoided a lot of the struggles had balance been taught – my parents were on a reverse course by the time I was 9 trying to get my weight in check – how awful is that?
I recall my first diet while in grade school, and slim fast one summer (lost a lot of weight but was 14 and on swim team and soccer more impressed I made it through competition!)
Balance…balance and moderation. Learning that eating shouldn’t be an emotional response. And that treats were okay…so that I didn’t wind up hoarding them in the dark.
And now to have a much healthier relationship but have Crohn’s and IBS lol food will always be an issue for me!
Wow – just wow!! It seems as though food has been an issue for you your whole life, and though no fault of your own. It never ceases to amaze me how eating can become such a central focus (or lack of?) in a family. At least now, as an adult, you know more and understand yourself better and, therefore, your relationship with food. Good for you for turning it around!!
I don’t have much memory about food in my childhood. I remember I was super picky and my parents made like 4 meals every night to cater to our whims. But I don’t remember what we even snacked on. I do remember that we were only allowed to have cheerios and rice crispies because of the sugar, but then we ate ice cream every night 😉
Oh, and I forgot….I worked at McDonalds and ate quarter pounders with cheese and a large fry pretty much every day I worked….
I seriously cannot believe your parents catered to your eating habits like that!! Can you imagine doing that for your family?? My motto around here is ‘you get what you get and you don’t get upset,’ although they don’t always follow that last part 🙂
Oh yea, that’s how we are with my boys….I can’t believe my parents did that either!!
Such a hot topic! Honestly what you feed your self and your family is your business. None of mine. What is hard to get about mind your own business? I grew up eating a variety of stuff. Homemade Chinese food to packets of ketchup, veggies, Taco Bell, pate, fries, slim fast. Every single thing. The more American it was the more I wanted it. That’s called growing up as a foreigner in Texas lol. I’ll have no problem with my daughter trying all the foods. I prefer we focus on quality rather than anything else but at the end of the day sometimes I just want a fast food French fry. That’s it 🙂 some people might think I’m a health nut, others might think the opposite. Whatever. I fuel my body for myself and like feeling good. This involves lots of yogurt, strong coffee, and some chocolate. Maybe a beer
Good point about a family’s eating habits being none of your business!! That is SO true!!
I both agree and disagree. I wish my parents had provided a healthier diet for my siblings and I. I think diet is completely related to my mom’s stress levels (her normal lunch is Activia yogurt and M&Ms) and my dad’s anxiety over his children (he considers pie a fruit). I also think that a lot of skin issues I had and the abnormal periods my sister has a diet related. Children today eat too much shit. Period.
I agree with you that Halloween and the holiday season should have treats. I just think that in the daily life of kids (and in my childhood) things that should have been treats were normal, everyday meals or snacks. If I could go back, I probably would change what I ate.
You can absolutely make the case for “you are what you eat” and it can be super stressful. After reading so many of these comments I left out a huge part of my “educating” my kids. They know how to read labels and definitely know that mom does not think McDonald’s is healthy but ok just once and a while. If they known more about nutrition, they can make better choices and decisions as they get older. At least that is my hope for my kids!!
Thanks so much for your thoughts!
The thing is that when we were kids, Halloween is when we got to gorge ourselves–now every day, everyone gorges themselves. I’ve never seen so many obese children in my life than I do currently in my practice, many of them with signs of prediabetes. If only everyone got their kids outside and got them moving all the time–like we did when we were kids, it would be a different story. There weren’t video games and phones back them. You know what is really crazy? Michelle Obama tried to make this her platform and people got all wacky about it.
Sorry….I’ll get off my soapbox now.
I cannot imagine what passes though your nursing door on a daily basis and why you would be so frustrated with kids eating so much crap. You know I totally agree with that and, the obese kids are not doing ANYTHING in moderation. Partly though it’s the way this country’s food system is set up – the fruits and veggies should be on the 99 cent menu and double bacon cheeseburgers should cost 8.99 a pound!
And Michelle changed a lot for the good but you’re so right, people lose their minds when you take away their junk…it’s called addiction!
You are always allowed a soapbox up in here 🙂
My mom laments all the time about what she WISH she knew about all the “crap” I was eating when I was growing up including frosted flakes because OMG they are so good! Now she is super strict with my kids diet and I’m all like, look ma–I turned out pretty okay! lol Love this post!
I love that she is so strict with your kids! It’s the total opposite at my dad’s house. He hasn’t learned a thing 🙂
There is a picture of me, at 3 years old, holding a bottle of coke as lovingly as if it was my favorite toy. I was 3 and was drinking coke, like it was water. To this date, I tell myself that at least my son has never tasted coke. His donut consumption is a different conversation…
I agree! Let the kids eat their Candy! My kid gets so much candy for Halloween, I let him pick 5 pieces of candy that he loves and has to have and he can have it after dinner. But by the following week, he has already forgotten about it all and moved on to making a Christmas list anyway. It’s all about the balance right? a little bit of organic, non gmo water and a whole lotta candy!
Oh Lord the soda!!! I’m sure I was drinking it at an early age as well. My kids are the same – no soda but a deep affection for donuts 🙂 Good luck with the Halloween candy and you are so right that they forget about it as soon as they get a whiff of Christmas!…which is a whole different story…
I was quite the picky eater growing up – for years I only ate apples, vanilla yogurt, Honey Nut Cheerios, rice, and I drank milk. Oh, and mustard on rye bread sandwiches (sometimes with salami, usually not). I turned a corner at some point and started eating a lot more variety!
My parents always made a variety of different foods, and I remember trying them but not being forced to eat them. We were allowed soda on special occasions – if we went out to dinner (which we didn’t do too much), our birthdays, and holidays (Thanksgiving/Christmas). We usually had dessert every night (ice cream!). I think I learned moderation because things weren’t too restricted, but it’s not like my parents let us run wild with candy.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, is a very picky eater – his parents made him eat food he didn’t like (frozen fish patties on Fridays, apparently), and now he’s not the greatest at trying new things. He’s getting better, especially if anyone but me suggests it, haha.
I don’t have kids, so I don’t know the battle of trying to get them to eat something, but I do think there is value in introducing a variety of foods and seeing what they like, but also not going crazy over being healthy 100% of the time. Of course, childhood obesity (and adult obesity) are major problems these days, so I think we need a balance, for sure. Kids also need to run around outside more, but that’s another idea for another day. I worked as a swim instructor at a summer camp in college, and I was always shocked at the number of kids who brought cans of soda with them for lunch. We weren’t allowed to do that at all!